Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Fall Brawl 1998
Date: September 13, 1998
Location: Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Center, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Commentators: Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan
It’s WARGAMES! Well in name only at least as whatever they have tonight certainly isn’t the same idea that gave us the best team gimmick match of all time. Tonight there are three teams of three men each but only one individual can win, making the team concept completely pointless. The winner faces Goldberg, who isn’t on the card tonight, for the title at Halloween Havoc. Let’s get to it.
The opening video just shows all nine people in the main event.
The ring setup is different than any other show as there are two rings right next to each other. The matches will alternate between rings all night.
The announcers talk about the main event as a LOUD We Want Flair chant starts up. They go over the rules of the main event before going to the back where Ernest Miller is being restrained. There was a lottery earlier and it will be Bret Hart vs. DDP to start. Another new rule this year: the match can end at any time instead of waiting for everyone to get in.
Gene talks even more but Jericho interrupts and announces he’ll be in a champion vs. champion match tonight against Goldberg. The fans are very intrigued.
Davey Boy Smith/Jim Neidhart vs. Alex Wright/Disco Inferno
Alex and Davey get things going with Smith taking him into the corner and hitting some forearms to the head. A hiptoss and gorilla press slam send Wright into the corner to bring in Disco. He gets to face Neidhart as the match slow down a bit. Some shoulder blocks put Disco down and Anvil swivels his hips a bit. Disco fires back with some stomps to the chest and a running knee lift, only to have Neidhart drive him into the corner for the tag off to Bulldog.
Wright comes in as well and stomps a German mudhole in the corner. Bulldog cartwheels out of a monkey flip but Alex pops up and hits a spinwheel kick to take over again. Back to Disco who hits a nice shot to the jaw but Smith sidesteps him to send Disco outside. Jim gets in some stomps on the floor and whips Inferno hard into the barricade. Disco is thrown inside for a chinlock before fighting up and stepping on Smith’s foot. He runs into Davey to knock him down (no move or anything. Disco just collided with him) but Davey picks him up and throws him at the ropes in what I think was supposed to be a hot shot.
Neidhart gets another tag and slams Disco onto the mat as Heenan picks Piper to win WarGames. Jim bites Disco’s forehead as this boring match continues so the fans chant for Flair again. Smith comes back in to launch Neidhart in for a slingshot shoulder block but I think he leaves it short (Disco tried to move so it wasn’t clear which happened) and it’s back to Alex.
Bulldog comes in and gets backdropped, which I believe is the move that broke his back as he landed on Warrior’s trapdoor because WCW thought Ultimate Warrior should have magical powers. The match degenerates into a comedy match with the referee having to drop to the mat to avoid a charging Bulldog before the injured Davey Boy gets Disco up for the powerslam and the pin.
Rating: D. This could have been on any given episode of Saturday Night but instead it’s opening a pay per view. Keep that in mind when you remember that guys like Eddie Guerrero and the world champion couldn’t get on the card tonight. This was pretty much it for Neidhart and Smith would be gone about a month later after the back injury got infected and put him in the hospital for six months.
Gene is with Scott Steiner and Buff Bagwell with Scott saying he’s injured and showing the Band-Aid to prove it. Steiner’s doctor has written him a note saying he can’t wrestle tonight but JJ Dillon just happens to be walking by and says the match is on anyway. Again, why bother making up these stories and having them resolved in the same segment? The match has been building for seven months now. Just have them fight.
TV Title/WCW World Title: Chris Jericho vs. Goldberg
We get the long entrance from the back, complete with the debut of RALPHUS as the Jericho Personal Security. Jericho finds the lunch room, the door to the parking lot (“Not falling for that again!”) and finally the arena. The pyro are just little puffs of smoke to anger Jericho even more but the fans love him. Of course it’s not the real Goldberg though as we get the all time favorite: the little impersonator. At least this guy is taller than the top rope. The fans are REALLY not pleased and can you blame them? We’re thirty minutes into this show and we’ve had the opening match and this. Jericho no sells the spear and wins with the Liontamer.
Rick Steiner is at the internet location and isn’t happy that he has to fight his brother. He knows his brother better than anyone does and he’ll teach him a lesson. As generic as this was, it’s the second best thing on the show tonight.
We see the entire segment with Ernest Miller interrupting the Armstrongs on Thunder, leading to Norman Smiley making a save.
Norman Smiley vs. Ernest Miller
Miller gives Smiley five seconds to get out of the ring before he takes him apart but Norman chops him to the floor. Smiley follows him outside but gets whipped into the barricade before we head back inside for a variety of kicks. A double chop to the throat puts Norman down again and Miller mixes up his offense with some knees to the chest. More choking ensues against the ropes before he throws Smiley down with a judo move. Off to a lame armbar before Norman comes back to no reaction from the bored crowd. A delayed suplex gets two on Miller but he breaks up a superplex attempt and hits two Feliners for the pin.
Rating: D. To clarify: WCW would rather push a one dimensional martial arts guy over an international submission/amateur style wrestler with years of experience wrestling all over the world. Smiley had a lot of tools but never got to showcase what he could do. But hey, at least we get to see ERNEST MILLER.
We recap Rick vs. Scott Steiner. Scott turned on his brother back in February and has avoided the match over and over again before they FINALLY go at it tonight.
Rick Steiner vs. Scott Steiner
Scott stalls on the floor for a few minutes before coming back inside for a slugout with Rick getting the better of it. A right hand from Scott has no effect and he bails to the floor. Rick chases him into the crowd and drags him back into the ring but Scott hits him low to escape a belly to belly suplex.
After more stalling Rick blocks a butterfly suplex and hits a DDT before going up for the bulldog. Buff Bagwell interferes but gets rammed into the buckle, knocking him out cold and dropping him to the mat. Rick’s bad shoulder is sent into the post but he comes right back with right hands. The referee is with Bagwell and the match is stopped due to his injury, further ticking off the crowd.
Rating: D-. This was getting better but of course we have a false finish because waiting seven months for a full match just isn’t long enough. I can’t blame the crowd for getting even angrier after sitting through this as they were getting their first interesting match of the night but it didn’t even break six minutes.
Bagwell is awake and talking to Scott as the crowd shouts what they think of this nonsense. Trainers come out to check on Bagwell as the announcers talk about how serious this is. A stretcher is brought out as the show grinds to another halt. We go all the way to the back to see Bagwell loaded into a stretcher with Rick saying someone needs to call Buff’s mom. The ambulance doors are closed, Rick is distraught, and of course Scott and Buff come back out and beat him down. Nearly ten minutes were spent on this after the match ended.
Cruiserweight Title: Silver King vs. Juventud Guerrera
This is a rematch after Silver King got disqualified on Thunder. Juvy is defending of course. The announcers spend the opening part of the match talking about how they’re not going to talk about Bagwell. Juvy takes him down with an armbar to start but Silver flips out of it and sends the champion to the mat. The announcers mention the match they had on Thunder, referring to it as “recently on WCW TV”. They can’t even get the details of a match from three days ago?
Juvy comes back with a quick hurricarana and a springboard into a headscissors for two. Another springboard move is caught by a dropkick from Silver King before he loads Juvy on his shoulder and spins him, tossing him into the buckle. A shoulder breaker gets two on the champion and a dropkick knocks him outside. Silver King hits a nice springboard plancha to take Juvy out again as the fans chant Taco Bell.
Back in and Juvy tries a quick sunset flip but overshoots it and crashes. Thankfully Silver King doesn’t walk over to him so Juvy can get the near fall. Instead Juvy gets up and hits a quick springboard hurricanrana for two and a missile dropkick gets the same. King misses a charge into the corner and an inversted Frankensteiner is good for two. Cool looking move, but of course it’s not enough for the pin because why have a big, new move get a victory? The Juvy Driver and 450 retain Guerrera’s title.
Rating: C. This was good almost due to how bad everything else has been. Silver King wasn’t the best choice for a challenger but Juvy is cleaning out the division before someone steps up to beat him. The Frankensteiner was a nice move but it doesn’t make up for the first hour being a waste of time.
Konnan is doing an interview on WCW.com when Scott Hall comes up and throws a drink in his face.
We recap Saturn vs. Raven. Lodi had won Saturn’s servitude due to interference and Saturn has been forced to comply due to his honor code as a former Army Ranger. Saturn believed in honor so much that he allowed his fingers to be broken instead of dishonorably breaking Riggs’ fingers. Tonight if Raven wins then Saturn is Raven’s servant forever but if Saturn wins, the Flock disbands.
Raven vs. Saturn
Kanyon is handcuffed to the ring to make it as far as possible. It’s also Raven’s Rules. Raven chills in the corner to start before getting in a cheap shot and sending Saturn across the ring and down to the mat. A running knee lift has Saturn in even more trouble but he comes back with some high kicks in the corner and a spinning springboard forearm for two. Saturn gets the same off a top rope splash and another kick sends Raven into the barricade. Lodi goes over to help but both guys are taken out by a nice suicide dive to wake up the crowd a little bit.
Lodi interferes a bit to give Raven control and get a two count off a pair of middle rope elbows. Saturn comes back with something resembling a powerbomb for two, only to be taken down by a quick clothesline. There’s a sleeper to Saturn but he comes out of it with a jawbreaker to put both guys down. Raven is up first with some rolling Russian legsweeps for two but Saturn hits him low to get a break.
We get our first chair brought in for the drop toehold from Raven and the Flock brings in a table. Kidman is on the other side of the ring and comes in to turn on Raven with a dropkick before sprinting to the back with the Flock chasing after him. Saturn’s Death Valley Driver gets a VERY close two before he snaps off three straight suplexes. Raven is out on his feet so Saturn slams him to the mat and gets two off a spinning springboard legdrop.
Something like a Juvy Driver gets two more for Saturn so he puts on the Rings of Saturn but Lodi makes the save. The referee gets bumped and Kanyon gets the key to the handcuffs out of his pocket to set himself free. He gives Saturn a Flatliner but Raven can only get two. Saturn drives Lodi through the table with the Death Valley Driver but walks into the EvenFlow. He kicks out again and the fans are WAY into this now. Another Death Valley Driver is enough to split up the Flock.
Rating: B. This was the only way to end the feud and it worked very well. As is almost always the case, the backstory makes the match much better as you have Saturn rising above everyone else and surviving everything Raven throws at him. Kidman turning makes sense as he had already been changing his look in the previous months, which is always a good addition to a feud.
Jim Duggan’s cancerous tumor was successfully removed and it was the size of a football.
We look at the end of the cage match from Monday with Arn Anderson coming out to save Dean and blow the roof off the place. That’s the problem with tonight being the double cage match: the Malenko vs. Hennig cage match would have made more sense on PPV but they had to do the whole thing backwards.
Dean Malenko vs. Curt Hennig
Dean goes right for Curt to start but Hennig bails to the floor. The fans want Flair but get Dean ramming Hennig’s leg into the barricade instead. Rude tries to interfere but gets stared down, allowing Malenko to wrap Curt’s leg around the post. Back in and Dean stays on the leg, leaving Curt unable to slam Dean. Tony declares this a Horsemen style attack as Curt gets in a shot to the ribs to slow Dean down and take over. He can’t keep up the attack due to the knee though and Dean goes right back to it with a knee crusher.
Hennig bails to the floor where Rude tries to help him to the back but Dean will have none of that. Back in and Dean cannonballs down on the knee before putting on a leg bar. Off to a different kind of leg lock as the fans are just waiting for Anderson and Flair to run in. Back up and Hennig forearms him down but the knee gives out on the HennigPlex attempt. Instead Dean HennigPlexes Curt but Rude comes in for the DQ.
Rating: D+. GAH this was irritating. Is it going to kill Curt Hennig to have him job to Malenko on PPV? Apparently so, because we couldn’t possibly let a cruiserweight like Malenko get a clean pin over a big star, even if that big star hasn’t meant much of anything in months. This was a very annoying ending.
Dean gets beaten down but Anderson runs out for the save. Hennig and Rude take him down with ease and stomp on his bad arm as no one runs out to help. The NWO stands tall because that’s how WCW works.
Halloween Havoc ad.
Scott Hall vs. Konnan
Hall does the survey and the NWO chant is barely audible. Feeling out process to start until Hall throws the toothpick in Konnan’s face. Scott cranks on Konnan’s arm and slaps him in the back of the head for a bit so Konnan just punches him in the face. The fans go nuts for Konnan all of a sudden before he takes Hall down with a shoulder block. Hall does the changing hands on a test of strength bit until Konnan punches him again. Scott tries to run but gets caught in the between the rings and is stomped down to the floor between the gap.
Stalling ensues on the floor as the crowd dies again. Back inside and Hall cranks on both arms and putting a knee between Konnan’s shoulders. Konnan spins his arms around to reverse the hold but doesn’t move his hands. In other words, the only thing keeping Hall in this hold is him grabbing Konnan’s wrists. He finally kicks Konnan low to escape and for a two count. The fallaway slam gets the same and we hit the abdominal stretch. Hall even has a drink while he has the hold applied.
Konnan counters into one of his own but Hall hiptosses him down, only to miss three straight elbow drops. Scott is rammed into the buckles a few times but he comes right back with a clothesline. A belly to back superplex drops Konnan again but he stops for a drink instead of covering. Konnan kicks the cup into his face and hits the X Factor to set up the Tequila Sunrise for the win.
Rating: C-. Not a bad match for the most part but it doesn’t mean anything. This was the same kind of match that you would see in the Alliance era in WWF: not terrible but doesn’t change anything for anyone. I’ll give them credit for pushing Konnan though as this was as close to a clean win as you’re going to get in an NWO match.
WarGames: Team WCW vs. Team NWO Wolfpack vs. Team NWO Hollywood
WCW: Diamond Dallas Page, Warrior, Roddy Piper
Wolfpack: Kevin Nash, Sting, Lex Luger
Hollywood: Hollywood Hogan, Bret Hart, Stevie Ray
There are different rules this year. We’re going to start with Hart vs. Page for five minutes and every two minutes someone else will be added. The match can end at anytime and for the first time ever, by pinfall. The first person to get a fall faces Goldberg next month at Halloween Havoc. It’s a double cage so the ring is completely surrounded, including a top. There’s no wall or barricade between the two rings so people can change rings at will.
To further annoy me, Sting vs. Goldberg is announced for tomorrow night. That could have headlined Starrcade. This first period is five minutes. Page cranks on the arm to start and gets two off a shoulder block. An early Diamons Cutter attempt misses and Page is sent face first into the buckle. Hart DDTs him down and rams Page into another buckle. We have two minutes left in the match as the trade right hands in the corner.
A backbreaker keeps Page in trouble but he grabs the arm and drives it down into the mat to get a breather. Page comes back with his discus lariat to put both guys down as Stevie Ray comes in third. All remaining periods are just two minutes. Ray chokes on Page and slams him but opts to choke instead of cover. A clothesline keeps Page in trouble as Sting is in fourth. Stevie meets him coming in and we have action in both rings for the first time tonight.
Stevie is sent to the other ring so Sting dives over two sets of ropes with a clothesline (called the Stinger Splash by Tenay) as all four are in the same ring. They’re already slowing down with Sting the only one on his feet. Ray gets caught between the ropes and cage for a splash from Sting as Hart piledrives Page. A second splash from Sting hits the cage as Piper is in fifth. Piper bites various people and pokes a lot of eyes because this is WAR. He nails Page because the team concept means nothing. You might even be able to pin your team members but it’s not specified.
Stevie is stomped between the rings and Bret punches Page from one ring to the other. Luger strolls to the ring at number six and goes after Stevie while the other four guys are in the first ring. Lex jumps Hart to end whatever bond they made on Thunder before moving over to Piper. Roddy’s sleeper doesn’t last long on Luger and it’s Nash (with pyro) in seventh. Big Kev cleans house as Hogan comes out a minute and twenty seconds early.
Luger Racks Bret but Hogan is knocking everyone out with Stevie’s slap jack. Stevie and Hogan are the only people left standing as the match stops cold. Hogan’s time ends despite him being in the ring for a minute already. The match has completely died with Hogan dropping leg after leg on Nash. There’s the Warrior smoke and Warrior appears in the ring. Hogan jumps him from behind and lays him out but more smoke fills the ring.
It clears out and only Warrior’s coat is left. Warrior runs down the aisle as Hogan panics. Stevie takes Warrior down with relative ease as Disciple pulls Hogan out of the cage. Everyone else is still out cold by the way. Warrior comes back on Ray and walks around the ring looking at Hogan before kicking the cage wall apart and chasing Hogan to the back. In the ring, DDP pops up and hits a quick Diamond Cutter on Ray for the win.
Rating: Agoobwa. This match was so stupid that it’s beneath any letter grade. I’m not even sure where to start. First off, this isn’t WarGames. This is more like a regular match dressing up like WarGames for Halloween. There was never any drama or intrigue and the match never felt important at all. It was about fifteen minutes of lackluster punching and kicking before Hogan and Stevie Ray knocked everyone else out with a weapon so they wouldn’t have to fill in all that time with action.
On top of that, this wasn’t even violent. Other than Sting splashing Ray against the cage, no one was rammed into the steel until Warrior sent Stevie into it. The biggest flaw here is there was no hatred or personal animosity between these guys. They were just all assigned to teams and might have had some matches that ended in DQ’s a few weeks earlier. That doesn’t make for a match that is supposed to be the biggest, most violent fight of the year.
It’s very similar to the modern day Hell in a Cell matches. With so little time to build up to them, there’s no reason to care about what happens out there. Look back to let’s say 1992 with Sting’s Squadron against the Dangerous Alliance. There were probably five individual feuds in there and they had been built up for months. Or even look at 1995 with Hogan’s team against the Dungeon of Doom. The match sucked but at least there was a reason for them to be fighting other than “we need members of each organization.” This wasn’t WarGames. It was a multiple man match which happened to be in the double cage.
Page celebrates in the crowd to end the show.
Overall Rating: F-. If there was a rating lower than this, the show would get that. This was dreadful throughout with Raven vs. Saturn being the only match worth checking out and even that’s a stretch. They took all of the good potential that WCW had been building up for months and wasted it in one night. No Guerrero, no Goldberg (he couldn’t even show up and beat on Jericho?), no Flair, and Anderson gets beaten down because we need to keep Curt Hennig looking strong. This ranks up there with the worst shows of all time and I can easily see why it was named the worst show of the year for 1998.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.
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